Long’s first complete-game leads Wharton over Armwood

Wharton sophomore Justis Meadows hit his first home run of the season in the third inning. 

By Lily Belcher, Correspondent
Photos by Tara White, Photo Correspondent

NEW TAMPA – Senior Caden Long led the Wharton Wildcats to a 4-1 victory Thursday night with his first career complete-game and four strikeouts.

Long has been a Wildcat (8-8) for three years, but this is his first season on the bump after head coach Mike Burgess asked him to step into the role to fill the open pitcher’s spot.

“That was the plan going in: to see how far he could go with seven-day rest. He’s been going strong all season…he’s a big part of our team and he’s a guy I depend on,” said Burgess.

The righty quickly adapted to the role and has had solid outings this season, but fallen short of the complete game due to high pitch counts, despite his appeals to stay on the mound. Burgess told Long that, if he could keep his pitch count down, he would trust his senior with a complete game.

“I feel like Coach Burgess is really great with trusting his players,” Long said. “So, I feel like I have a really great relationship with him and he trusts me a lot.”

Long worked with the team’s pitching coach to reduce walks and attack the strike zone when he fell behind on the count, something he showcased in the Thursday night win, giving up no walks to Armwood (10-5).

“He’s one of my best friends since we were little and I’m super happy for him,” said Wildcats senior Dylan Klinger about Long. “He pitched great and he’s the reason we won for the most part so I’m proud of him.”

Wharton’s defense held six of Armwood’s eight runners to first or second base, giving up one stolen base and a run. Quick fielding allowed the Wildcats to keep groundballs in the clay and turn seven groundouts.

“I felt like most of our team played pretty good defense today. I think that’s why we won. We could have hit a little better, but our defense did the job tonight,” said Klinger.

Armwood sophomore Chase Conti pitched six innings, striking out four.

While defense and Long’s pitching kept the Armwood bats to just one run after a sixth inning RBI single by Matthew Hall, Wharton’s offense gave the Wildcats a comfortable lead.

Klinger hit a one-out base hit in the first before stealing second and advancing to third. With sophomore teammate Jaylen Martin on first and ready to steal second, Klinger stole home on a successful double-steal to put Wharton on the board.

“We’ve been working on being quick. The pitcher had a good move. He actually picked me off once but that doesn’t put me down,” Kilinger said. “So, we got more stolen bases right after that because we learned from that and we learn from our mistakes.”

Wildcats senior David Ascano doubled in a run in the first inning.

An RBI double by senior David Ascano scored Martin and gave the Wildcats an early 2-0 lead. Sophomore Justis Meadows knocked a longball over the left-centerfield wall to lead off the third two frames later. A sixth inning insurance RBI single by Jake Turer scored Martin to answer the lone run scored by the Hawks in the top of the inning.

Wharton will travel to Hillsborough and Armwood will host Tampa Bay Tech on Tuesday, April 11.


Wharton 4, Armwood 1

A  000|001|0 – |1|8|0
W 201|001|x – |4|7|0
W – Long (2-1); L – Conti (2-2)
2B – Rodriguez (A); Ascano, Anello (W); HR – Meadows (W). Records – A (10-5); W (8-8).